My list of Detroit Lions draft successes was looking pretty incomplete even after I went through the first seven drafts of this time frame. Once I hit 2009, however, the list suddenly filled up. That happened for two main reasons: 1) Martin Mayhew seems to have made quite a few excellent picks in 2009; and 2) with less time to judge recent picks, the list is obviously biased toward guys that have started off their careers well in the last few years. Many players picked during the Matt Millen era also started off their careers quite well before later becoming busts. For guys that were picked earlier in the decade, it was tougher to get on this list than guys picked in recent years.
Although there is no set criteria for something like this, one thing I tried to give some added importance to when assembling the list was where a player was picked. Actually ranking the list was more about on-field production, but take Sammie Hill as an example of finding a diamond in the rough, which is how he landed at No. 10. Taken out of Stillman in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Hill was viewed as a very raw player that would take time to develop. Despite that, he started 12 games during his rookie season. Due to added depth at defensive tackle and the addition of guys like Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, Hill didn't start in any games this past season, but he did appear in 15. In those 15 games he recorded 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks and became a regular in the rotation.
While it remains to be seen where Hill's career will go from here, his potential is very high. In a few years whether or not he would remain on this list could be up for debate, but right now Hill is viewed as a player that is ready to break out despite being behind both Suh and Williams. He is someone the Lions could look forward to seeing in their rotation for years to come, and that's not bad at all for being picked 115th overall back in 2009.
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